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Race To Space
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Born, Edward Emerson "E. E." Barnard (at Nashville, Tennessee, USA), astronomer (Amalthea, Jupiter's fifth satellite; Barnard's Star, second nearest to the Sun)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Born, Walther Meissner, German physicist (Meissner effect - damping of the magnetic field in superconductors)
ref: en.wikipedia.org

M. Wolf discovered asteroid #351 Yrsa.

Henri Coanda is believed to have made the first short flight in an aircraft with a jet engine.

In 1910, using the workshop of Joachim Caproni, Henri Coanda designed, built and piloted the first 'thermojet' powered aircraft, known as the Coanda-1910, which he demonstrated publicly at the second International Aeronautic Salon in Paris. The powerplant used a 4-cylinder piston engine to power a compressor, which fed to two burners for thrust, instead of using a propeller.

There are some questions re. the veracity of this claim, as discussed in the Wikipedia article.
ref: en.wikipedia.org

The first US postage stamp picturing an airplane, a 20 cent parcel post stamp, was issued.
1912 U.S. twenty cent Parcel Post stamp, the first stamp to depict an airplane Source: Wikipedia 320px-Parcel_Post_Aeroplane_mail_20c_1913_issue.JPG
1912 U.S. twenty cent Parcel Post stamp, the first stamp to depict an airplane
Source: Wikipedia
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Born, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, science fiction writer

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE (16 December 1917 – 19 March 2008) was a British science fiction author, inventor and futurist, and a lifelong proponent of space travel. He is credited with inventing geosynchronous communication satellites, and was perhaps most famous for his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey and the movie version produced in collaboration with director Stanley Kubrick.

Among his memorable works are "Clarke's three laws:"
 1. "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."
 2. "The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible."
 3. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
See also Arthur C. Clarke on The Clarke Foundation site
ref: en.wikipedia.org

Born, Philip K. Dick, science fiction writer
ref: en.wikipedia.org

R. Carrasco discovered asteroid #1644 Rafita.

1965 07:31:00 GMT
NASA launched Pioneer 6 into solar orbit to obtain measurements of interplanetary phenomena on a continuing basis.

Pioneer 6, launched 16 December 1965, was the first in a series of solar orbiting satellites designed to obtain measurements on a continuing basis of interplanetary phenomena from widely separated points in space. Its experiments studied the positive ions and electrons in the solar wind, the interplanetary electron density (radio propagation experiment), solar and galactic cosmic rays, and the interplanetary magnetic field. The spacecraft was spin-stabilized at about 60 rpm, with the spin axis perpendicular to the ecliptic plane and pointed toward the south ecliptic pole. The time interval between the collection and storage of successive frames could be varied by ground command between 2 and 17 minutes to provide partial data coverage for periods up to 19 hours, as limited by the bit storage capacity. In memory readout mode, data were read out at whatever bit rate was appropriate to the satellite distance from Earth. Although the spacecraft has not been regularly tracked for science data return in recent years, a successful telemetry contact was made on 8 December 2000 to celebrate 35 years of continuous operation since launch.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

1965 10:28:50 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA's Gemini 6A splashed down after a total mission elapsed time of 25:51:24 which included a rendezvous with Gemini 7 in orbit.

Gemini 6A was scheduled to launch on 12 December 1965, but the launch was aborted one second after engine ignition because an electrical umbilical separated prematurely. This was the first time an astronaut mission was aborted after ignition start.

Gemini 6A was the fifth crewed Earth-orbiting spacecraft of the Gemini series, launched 15 December 1965 after Gemini 7 (which was launched 4 December 1965), with the intent of making rendezvous with Gemini 7 in Earth orbit. The astronauts on the 26 hour mission were Walter Schirra and Thomas Stafford. The mission priorities were to demonstrate on-time launch procedures, closed-loop rendezvous capabilities, and stationkeeping techniques with Gemini 7. Other objectives were to evaluate the spacecraft reentry guidance capabilities, and conduct spacecraft systems tests and four experiments. This mission was originally designated Gemini 6 and scheduled for launch on 25 October but was cancelled when the Agena target vehicle failed to go into orbit an hour earlier.

Upon orbit insertion, Gemini 6A trailed Gemini 7 by about 1900 km. Four major thruster burns were performed starting at 9:11 a.m. EST to catch up to Gemini 7. The first radar lock indicated a distance of 396 km. Two more major thruster burns preceded the final braking maneuver at 2:27 p.m. EST. Rendezvous was technically achieved and stationkeeping begun on 15 December at 2:33 p.m. EST with the two Gemini spacecraft in zero relative motion at a distance of 110 meters. Stationkeeping maneuvers involving the spacecraft circling each other and approaching and backing off continued for 5 hours 19 minutes over three and a half orbits. During the maneuvers, all four astronauts on both spacecraft took turns in the formation flying activities and photographs were taken from both spacecraft. This marked the first time two spacecraft were maneuvered with respect to each other by their crews. At the end of stationkeeping Gemini 6A fired thrusters to move to a position roughly 50 km away from Gemini 7 for drifting flight during a sleep period.

Near the end of the 15th revolution the retrorockets were fired at 9:53:24 a.m. EST on 16 December and splashdown occurred at 10:28:50 at 23.58 N, 67.83 W only 13 km from the target. This was the first successful controlled reentry to a predetermined point in the U.S. manned spaceflight program. The crew remained inside the spacecraft during recovery operations. The spacecraft and crew were brought aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Wasp at 11:32 a.m. Total mission elapsed time was 25:51:24.

All primary mission objectives were achieved. The only major malfunction was the failure of the delayed time telemetry tape recorder at 20 hours 55 minutes into the mission, resulting in loss of the last 4:20 of delayed time telemetry. The crew conducted three scientific experiments -- (1) synoptic terrain photography, (2) synoptic weather photography, and (3) dim light photography. The fourth experiment, measurement of radiation in spacecraft, was only partly completed.
ref: nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov

T. Smirnova discovered asteroid #1900 Katyusha.

L. Chernykh discovered asteroids #2341 Aoluta, #2480, #2551 Decabrina, #2669 Shostakovich, #2692 Chkalov, #2699 Kalinin, #3052 Herzen, #3147 Samantha, #3483 and #3719.

E. Bowell discovered asteroid #2264 Sabrina; H. Debehogne discovered asteroids #2795 Lepage and #3175 Netto.

Died, Hellmuth Walter, German/American engineer, worked on gas turbines, rocket engines and submarines

Hellmuth Walter (26 August 1900 - 16 December 1980) was a German engineer who pioneered research into rocket engines and gas turbines. His most noteworthy contributions were rocket motors for the Messerschmitt Me 163 and Bachem Ba 349 interceptor aircraft, JATO units used for a variety of Luftwaffe aircraft during World War II, and a revolutionary new propulsion system for submarines known as Air Independent Propulsion (AIP).
ref: en.wikipedia.org

E. Bowell discovered asteroid #3162 Nostalgia.

Died, Emil A. H. Hellebrandt, German expert in guided missiles during World War II, member of the German Rocket Team in the US after the war, worked the remainder of his life with the rocket team, at Fort Bliss, White Stands, and then at Huntsville
ref: www.nytimes.com

2001 10:02:38 EST (GMT -5:00:00)
NASA's STS 108 (Endeavor) released STARSHINE 2 into orbit.
STARSHINE 2 rising from its canister in Endeavour's payload bay, NASA photo Source: Wikipedia (spaceflight.nasa.gov killed 25 Feb 2021) 320px-STS-108_STARSHINE_2.jpg
STARSHINE 2 rising from its canister in Endeavour's payload bay, NASA photo
Source: Wikipedia (spaceflight.nasa.gov killed 25 Feb 2021)

Project STARSHINE is an ongoing program to release beachball-sized, mirror-covered satellites into orbit, where they last for about eight months. During the satellite's mission, sunlight reflecting from the mirrors is visible to the unaided eye during morning and evening twilight hours.

Teams of elementary, middle and high school students visually track the satellite and note the times that it passes between selected pairs of targeted stars. Calculations based on the tracking data will be used to determine atmosphere density at various altitudes.
ref: azinet.com

Died, Riccardo Giacconi, Italian-born American astrophysicist, Nobel 2002 with Davis and Koshiba "for pioneering contributions to astrophysics, which have led to the discovery of cosmic X-ray sources"
ref: www.nobelprize.org

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